Thursday, June 2, 2005
Five years ago, violinist Darol Anger met cellist Rushad Eggleston under unusual circumstances. The two were at a Montreal music festival where Eggleston was playing with a jazz quartet that happened to be covering some of the material Anger had written and recorded with his former band, the Turtle Island String Quartet. Immediately, the legendary violinist, who had played with the legendary David Grisman Quintet, was impressed with the young cellist.
“My eyes were opened to genius,” Anger says of the experience with the Carmel High graduate.
In addition to being impressed by Eggleston’s raw talent, Anger also felt an emotional connection.
“We are kindred spirits,” he says.
A couple years later, after the two had been performing in the Grammy nominated quartet Fiddlers 4, Anger enlisted Eggleston to join a new project titled Darol Anger and the American Fiddle Ensemble—now called Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings. Anger says the lineup—which includes guitarist Scott Nygaard and fiddle player Brittany Haas, gelled quickly.
“There was no uncomfortable adapting,” Anger says of the first times playing with his new group. “When we started playing, it was like playing with inspired versions of myself.”
Last year, the quartet released its first CD, Republic of Strings. The release includes acoustic reworkings of songs like Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and Bill Monroe’s “Old Dangerfield.” Anger says the hardest piece to play and record was suite of songs connecting a bluesy choral to a traditional American number to an African drinking song.
Now, the band is working on a new CD to be released by next spring. Anger says the band has already finished recording a version of jazz artist Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin’” that turns into a traditional fiddle tune called “The Yellow Barber.” The group is slyly referring to the piece as “The Ramblin’ Barber.”
Anger, who has been playing string band music for over 30 years, is excited with all the recent interest in the music form.
“There has been more development in string band music than any other music in the last 20 years,” he says.
Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings plays Thursday, June 2, at 7pm at the Hidden Valley Theater, Carmel Valley Road and Ford Road in Carmel Valley. $30/advance; $35/at the door. 625-1229.